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PKR infighting, Anwar’s heedlessness

 | June 5, 2013

This is the second of a three-part article giving reasons for Pakatan Rakyat’s defeat from the viewpoint of grassroots activists.

ANALYSIS

PKR could have won more seats in the 13th general election if party boss Anwar Ibrahim had paid more attention to infighting in the various states, according to insiders.

“PKR has internal problems in every state, but these are especially serious in Kedah, Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang and Terengganu,” a source told FMT.

Furthermore, he added, these problems had existed since the conclusion of the 12th general election.

“Anwar knew about these internal squabbles, but he didn’t do anything about them.

“He must have thought Pakatan could take over Putrajaya just by riding the wave of change. He apparently didn’t think it was important to put his house in order.”

Several sources said Anwar often told grassroots leaders not to bother him with issues that could be resolved at the local levels.

“I agree to that 100%,” said a divisional leader. “Problems in the divisions should be settled at state level. But then, how do we do that when the state leaders themselves are squabbling?”

Infighting within the states, he added, resulted in inefficiency and poor planning of party activities. “The upshot was that we had no proper election training and we fielded poor candidates.”

According to PKR central committee member, many of PKR’s losses were due to silent protests over the fielding of parachute candidates.

He lamented that Anwar was continuing to ignore the local problems even after PKR’s disappointing showing in the 13th general election.

“He seems not to have learnt from the error of his ways. He’s thinking of nothing else but Putrajaya.

“We’re not going to win more seats in the next election if the internal problems are not resolved and Anwar can dream on about becoming prime minister.”

Diversion

Another insider said the Black 505 rallies were Anwar’s way of diverting attention from his blunder of fielding cronies as candidates in the recent election.

“He fielded his cronies or candidates recommended by his cronies, knowing full well that many of these choices were against the wishes of division leaders.

“The defeats in Kulim Bandar Baru, Bagan Serai, Pasir Salak, Taiping and Hulu Selangor were classic cases of candidates losing due to lack of support by division members.”

According to the central committee member, Anwar failed to realise that party members were no longer as obedient to the top leadership as they were 10 years ago.

“Times have changed,” he said. “There’s now more political maturity even among ordinary members.

“When I told a certain division to campaign for a parachute candidate, the members shot back, saying they were not idiots. They said they did not to do the bidding of people talk of democracy every day but choose to run the party in a dictatorial manner.

“They bluntly told me that if Anwar, Azmin Ali and the state PKR chief did not know how to respect the division, then they saw no reason to respect their decisions.”

Most of the members of that particular division eventually decided to campaign for PKR and PAS candidates in neighbouring constituencies.

“They didn’t sabotage the party itself,” said the insider. “If their intention was that, they would not have supported the PAS candidate and the other PKR candidate.

“What they did was a sign of protest against the PKR leadership. They wanted those leaders to give more respect to the wishes of the grassroots.

“The days of party members nodding to every decision of the top leaders are gone. They may not rebel openly, but they will carry out this kind of silent protest if the leadership does not practice true democracy.”

PAS’ guilt

Several of these critics acknowledged that Anwar was not the only Pakatan Rakyat leader that must take the blame for the failure to capture Putrajaya. They said PAS leaders such as Abdul Hadi Awang, Azizan Abdul Razak, Harun Din and Harun Taib were equally guilty.

They were especially harsh on Azizan, stressing his incompetence as the former menteri besar of Kedah.

One PKR man said he was “a miserable choice” as CEO for the northern state. Aside from his lack of administrative acumen, he also suffered ill health, requiring him to undergo dialysis treatments three times a week and thereby distracting him from his official duties.

A PAS faction that included Kedah executive councilors last year made an official complaint to the central leadership about Azizan’s poor performance, and this was widely reported in the mainstream media.

Some reports said a majority in the party’s central committee was keen on the idea of replacing Azizan. However, party president Hadi, who is known to be a close friend of the former menteri besar, vigorously defended him, insiders said.

Several PAS leaders have admitted that the Pakatan’s loss of Kedah was due chiefly to Azizan’s inefficiency in running the state and his lack of political wisdom.

“The Chinese and Indians punished us at certain polling stations because of some unpopular and inconsistent policies implemented by Azizan,” said one source. “He was arrogant. He did not listen to our feedback.

“If not for his poor health, I don’t think Mahfuz Omar would have been appointed as the new PAS commissioner for Kedah.”

The source was also critical of religious scholars Harun Din and Harun Taib. The former is the party’s deputy spiritual adviser and the latter chairs its ulama wing.

“Leaders like Harun Din and Harun Taib are no longer healthy for the party,” he said. “Their opinions and vision are not relevant to the new politics.

“I’m not against the ulama leaders, but the party should let younger ulama like Nasrudin Hassan at-Tantawi and Nik Mohamad Abduh Abdul Aziz take over from them.”

Also read:

Anwar, Azmin blamed for PKR losses


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